Yes, there are multiple reasons why you could be suffering from chronic pain apart from arthritis. One of the most common ones is a condition called fibromyalgia.
The condition is defined by widespread musculoskeletal pain that is typically accompanied by fatigue, as well as sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers also believe that the pain sufferers feel is actually amplified because of how the condition affects the brain’s ability to process pain signals. And an estimated 5.8 million people in the US alone suffer from this condition.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are ways and interventions that can help manage symptoms.
Before we get into that, let’s first look into its symptoms—
Overall body pain that has been described as a constant, dull ache for extended periods, usually at least three months.
Fatigue, defined by tiredness even after having just woken up. Those with the condition can sleep for long periods of time and are disrupted by pain.
Cognitive difficulties, typically referred to as “fibro fog,” make it difficult for sufferers to focus and pay attention or concentrate on mental tasks.
Suffering from other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and headaches, painful bladder syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorders.
What causes fibromyalgia?
In the same way that doctors don’t exactly know how to cure it, experts are also unable to identify a single cause for fibromyalgia. But they do think multiple factors contribute to the condition—
Because the condition tends to run in families, doctors believe that genetics is a big factor for making someone more susceptible to the disorder. Your family history and even your gender could be very telling. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women and if the condition is common among relatives, then you are more likely to develop the condition.
Illnesses could also be likely triggers. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, you could prompt or aggravate the disorder.
Experiencing physical or emotional trauma have been seen to trigger the condition.
What are complications that I have to worry about?
Generally, the frustration of dealing with fibromyalgia’s symptoms can result in depression and other health-related anxiety. Because of the widespread pain and lack of sleep, it’s also likely that the condition will interfere with your day to day activities.
Do I have to see a doctor if I have these symptoms?
Yes. It’s important that you seek the advise of a specialist who can determine the appropriate treatment and rule out other or underlying medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms.
There’s no cut and dried approach to treating the condition, and your treatment will depend on the symptoms you are exhibiting and its severity.
What possible treatments could be given?
To manage the pain, medication is typically prescribed. Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen are used to:
Minimize muscular pain
Prevent pain from disrupting sleep
More serious cases would see doctors prescribing antidepressants to help with the side effects of overfatigue, and anticonvulsants that help reduce pain.
Gentle exercise has been said to help with the pain of fibromyalgia. Yoga specifically has been shown to improve mood and reduce pain. Regular practice can help bolster muscle strength.
To manage pain, physical therapy techniques are incorporated into the treatment to help maintain range of motion and strengthen muscles. A good physical therapy program can also help lessen pain and teach you self-care techniques to help you better manage your condition.
Your physical therapist may also advise you to use compression garments to provide added support on your joints and aid you through day to day activities.
Fibromyalgia could be a life-long condition, which means you will have to deal with its attendant symptoms. Keep in mind however that it’s still entirely possible to live an active, healthy lifestyle despite your condition.
If you think you’re displaying symptoms of fibromyalgia, be sure to set an appointment with your physician today.